Home' acuity : Acuity Sept 14 Contents It's a big job, one that requires
optimism -- and realism.
"My hopes are that responsible
business and government work
collectively to highlight these issues and
deal with them," he says.
"My fears are that there are vested
interests in particular countries
that won't be receptive to greater
transparency and continue to entrench
the old ways.
"I think you only have to look at some
of the recent regimes around the world
where corruption is clearly getting worse
rather than better."
But he says there is a mood for change,
and changes are occurring.
"Let's, for example, take India where
the anti-corruption Bill that was put
forward nearly 18 months ago was
defeated in parliament.
"But in May this year, Mr Modi was
swept into office in a landslide, having
run on a very strong anti-corruption
agenda. So that's a good example, I
think, where the public and citizens are
now saying 'No, no, we need more from
"I'm very hopeful that with a country like
India we are now going to see significant
change with that new leadership.
"That's not happening with
every country around the world,
Where it is happening, though, is in
India's neighbour, China.
"I think corruption was endemic
in China but the new regime has just
tackled this almost as their number one
issue," he says.
"They're making huge progress."
Andrew was able to observe much
of China's crackdown on corruption
at relatively close quarters. When
appointed KPMG's global head, he
based himself in Hong Kong and
became the only head of a Big Four firm
to be based in Asia-Pacific.
What he witnessed was not only the
high-profile approach to cleaning up
China Inc, but also the more subtle
"We've all seen the cases such as Bo
Xilai (the corrupt politician sentenced
to life imprisonment) and Li Chuncheng
(the Sichuan politician stripped of
office following a bribery investigation),
and other high-profile people who have
been brought down.
"But what you don't see are the
state-owned enterprises introducing
really modern global compliance
policies, codes of conduct and risk
"You really don't want to be seen
lunching with a government official
these days, and you do not want to be
seen employing a member of the party
or their relatives.
to take corrective
action to move to
than the existing
"It's just changed dramatically in a
short period of time.
"It's caused some dislocation but,
at the same time, you're seeing a
revolution taking place there which will
have very positive long-term impacts
on the Chinese economy and restore
investment confidence and trade flows
by tackling this issue head on."
Australia and New Zealand are
generally regarded as doing well in
tackling bribery and corruption in
business, but we're not squeaky clean.
The AWB "oil for wheat" scandal
involving kickbacks of hundreds of
millions of dollars to Saddam Hussein
and the jailing of Rio Tinto executive
Stern Hu created headlines.
On top of those, a couple of years ago
the OECD's Working Group on Bribery
gave Australia a very public reprimand.
It even put out a media release with a
headline pointing out its mixed feelings
about the way Australia operates:
"OECD seriously concerned by lack
of foreign bribery convictions, but
encouraged by recent efforts by the
Australian Federal Police."
The rap over our knuckles pointed
out that: "Australia's enforcement
of its foreign bribery laws has been
extremely low, with just a single case
leading to prosecutions out of 28
referrals in 13 years. Cases may have
been closed prematurely. Australia
must vigorously pursue foreign
Andrew says one of the issues is that
Australian companies often tend to
operate in high-risk sectors or geographies
such as Africa, the Middle East, South
America and the Pacific Islands.
Another issue is that -- to put
it diplomatically -- some Aussie
companies are a little "naïve".
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